Mobile malware spikes during first half of year courtesy of increasing PC and adware infection

Motive’s first Malware Report (PDF) of 2015 estimates 80% of malware infections detected on mobile networks can now be traced to Windows™-based computers and laptops.

PCs and laptops have consistently been a favorite target of professional cybercriminals who have invested heavily in the Windows malware ecosystem. But their infection rate impact on mobile networks is rapidly growing as mobile networks are increasingly becoming the primary way people access the Internet.

Adware is another contributor. It’s increasing and becoming more sinister. One example is BetterSurf, a moderate-threat Windows Adware contained within software bundles offering free applications or games. When installed, it adds a plugin to Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome browsers that injects pop-up ads into web pages. While it looks like run-of-the-mill adware, the ads themselves are very dangerous. Many are phishing attempts to install additional malware and engage in fraudulent activity.

Spyware also continues to grow. Motive detected a significant increase in the number of ‘spyphone’ apps on both Android and iOS mobile devices. In fact, 10 of the 25 most prolific threats on smartphones are in the mobile spyware category. These sophisticated spyware apps enable the remote tracking of a phone owner’s movements as well as the monitoring of phone calls, text messages, e-mails and browsing habits.  While tracking applications can be used for legitmate purposes – such as a parent keeping track of their children, there are also far more sinister uses for these types of applications. See a video demonstration of this below:

The Malware Report also highlights one of the most talked about potential threats of 2015 so far: Stagefright. It’s a scary proposition for all who carry an Android device, and something I recently blogged about. Vulnerabilities in Android’s media display software can give attackers complete control of a phone by simply sending it an MMS message with a specially crafted media attachment.  When the message is received, the Android operating system automatically tries to open the attachment, infecting the device as it does without any interaction from the user. Furthermore, it is estimated that the Stagefright vulnerability could affect almost 1 billion devices.

Network-based device security continues to be the most effective way of identifying malware infecting mobile devices. A mobile operator can identify this malicious activity on its network and in turn notify a subscriber with instructions on how to remove the malware from their device before it can do any damage.

The complete 1H 2015 Motive Security Labs Malware Report can be found at this link. (PDF)

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